Japan’s Mitsubishi Shipbuilding is set to build a liquefied carbon dioxide (LCO2) carrier and is also studying an ammonia floating storage and regasification unit concept in a concerted bid to expand its energy transition portfolio.

The Yokohama-based unit of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries confirmed this week it had signed a deal with compatriot Sanyu Kisen to build, what it claims will be, the world’s first demonstration test ship to carry LCO2 exclusively for emerging carbon capture, utilisation and storage projects.

The project is being built in conjunction with Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization’s related work in CCUS research and development.

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The Engineering Advancement Association of Japan will charter the vessel from Sanyu Kisen in a bid to accelerate research and development of LCO2 transportation technology and reduce the cost of CCUS technology.

Other project partners will include Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Nippon Gas Line and Ochanomizu University.

Mitsubishi will be responsible for the ship design, all the way through to construction, including the cargo containment system, with the company stating it will apply its gas-handling technologies and expertise garnered through the construction of other liquefied gas carriers, such as for liquid petroleum gas and liquefied natural gas.

The vessel will be built at its Enoura Plant at the Shimonoseki Shipyard & Machinery Work, with completion and delivery scheduled for the second half of the 2023 fiscal year.

While Mitsubishi noted that vessels had already been built that carry LCO2 used in the food industry, this would be the first intended specifically for CCUS.

“Through the experience to be gained by constructing the world’s first LCO2 carrier built specifically for CCUS, MHI Group will strengthen its current strategic business focused on the energy transition,” Mitsubishi said in Wednesday’s statement.

“The company will also continue its dedication to developing and providing the technologies relating to LCO2 carriers necessary for CCUS value-chain building, to contribute to CO2 ecosystem development.”

The company believes demand is expected to increase for LCO2 carriers with growing interest in CCUS projects as a way for countries to reduce their emissions as they strive towards carbon neutrality.

Ammonia FSRU concept

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding also revealed Thursday it had completed a joint study with Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) into an ammonia floating storage and regasification unit.

The concept FSRU is a floating facility for receiving and storing ammonia which is transported in a liquid state from its production area, and the stored ammonia is then heated and regasified onboard for transfer to an onshore pipeline.

The conceptual study included multiple case studies of FSRUs with different specifications according to, among other things, the ammonia’s supply conditions, regasification method, and tank capacity.

The study also covered the feasibility of employing ammonia fuel to generate the power required for the operation of the FSRU itself.

It comes as Mistsubishi confirmed it had also concluded a memorandum of understanding with MOL and Kansai Electric Power to explore the future possibilities for ammonia FSRUs.

Mitsubishi's Ammonia FSRU concept Photo: MITSUBISHI SHIPBUILDING

While ammonia is mainly used as a raw material for fertilisers, Mitsubishi anticipates demand for it to increase as a next-generation clean fuel, with no CO2 emissions during combustion.

“In the global trend toward decarbonisation, movements toward making strategic use of ammonia are increasing, especially in Asia,” Mitsubishi said in Thursday’s statement.

“Going forward, according to MHI Group’s strategy of advancement of the energy transition, Mitsubishi Shipbuilding will strive to promote decarbonisation of the maritime industry as well as to contribute to realising a carbon-neutral society and reduction of environmental load on a global scale, by utilising its technologies and expertise in ammonia handling accumulated through its long experience in building multi-gas carriers for transporting LPG and ammonia.”

Mitsubishi claims that ammonia FSRUs can be built more quickly and at a lower cost than onshore ammonia storage and regasification plants.

It added that the usage of an ammonia FSRU in place of onshore storage regasification plants was expected to contribute to earlier and stable supply of ammonia fuel.

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